Mavs Courting O'Neal? Oh Boy?!

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Your Dallas Mavericks are pondering an O'Neal, but not that one.

Team source told me last night that the Mavs acquiring former Superman center Shaquille O'Neal is "a long longshot," but that Miami Heat center Jermaine O'Neal is a real possibility.

Honestly, neither name gets me too excited. Ten years ago? Maybe. But today they're both in the twilight - or at least on the downside - of their careers and are part-time players that don't push Dallas close to the hump, much less over it.

Shaq would bring a buzz, but would he produce better basketball? Unlikely. He couldn't win alongside LeBron James in Cleveland last year.

Jermaine is another, admittedly more enticing, story.

Seems like forever ago (it was actually 1996) when I covered the Mavs and the NBA for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Jermaine was drafted out of high school and quickly blossomed into an elite All-Star post player for the Indiana Pacers. In his early 20s, the kid was a beast, a 24-point scorer with supreme athleticism for 6-foot-11 player.

Now? He averaged 14 points and seven rebounds last season and played in 70 games, but at 32 he's likely a 24-minute guy who'll miss considerable time with creaky knees. Jermaine is an upgrade over Erick Dampier and Brenden Haywood, but he isn't the splash Dallas is looking to make in free agency.

If the Mavs are desperate for some sort of low-post presence, I'd rather see them bring in Minnesota's Al Jefferson. You?


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